Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heeding the Whisper - Week 3

In week three of the Called series, we discussed what it means to lead a public life as a Christian and how it relates to our calling.  If we think of our calling as our true purpose, the unique and personal way in which we are to serve God and the Kingdom with our life, then having a clear understanding of how we live that out in front of an unbelieving world becomes important.  Throughout the series, Frank has related our current cultural situation as to being "exiles" in Babylon; we either live by our values or we live by those of Babylon, and it's very difficult for us to act as "ambassadors" to Babylon if our faith is not evident in our lives.

One of the things that was emphasized in this session was the pressure in our society to remove Christianity from the public sphere.  We split our lives into public and private arenas and draw lines about which things belong where.  In recent years, it has become a widely held, if not prevailing, belief that one's religion and faith belong squarely in the private arena, that bringing faith into the public arena is not just a breach of etiquette but actively hostile to those who do not share your faith.  What's rather ironic about this, at least to me, is how the internet and social media have been tearing down the walls between the arenas.  Many people put their lives out on display for the world to see, reducing the line between private and public to a blur.

For Christians, this split is something we must fight to overcome.  A faith that happens only on Sunday mornings is one that has no transformative power.  If you aren't living by Christian values in the workplace, school, or any other public space, then what values are informing your actions and choices?  It is rather difficult to be faithful to the Christian life, especially when it comes to evangelism, if all evidence of said life is sequestered away from the world we're trying to reach.

It's a complicated matter to address what that "public life" should look like, though.  It's not just the hair-trigger response to displays of faith as "offensive."  Living out the faith can seem obtrusive to certain parts of life.  Nobody wants to be "that guy."  Jesus's promise that his yoke is light seems unlikely if we must fuss and fret over every detail of our day-to-day actions and interactions.  Is it trite to say that we must simply try to be mindful of our actions and always ready to give an answer for our faith?  Probably.  But I'm not sure how else to deal with it without writing a treatise on the matter.

One other issue that was particularly interesting to me was Frank's emphasis on the story of Joseph in Egypt.  If you don't remember, Joseph receives dreams about his family bowing down before him.  His siblings don't take this kindly and have him shipped off to Egypt as a slave, where Joseph continually finds himself rising to the top of bad situations.  The thrust of it is that Joseph spent years in Egypt, first as a slave, then as a prisoner.  His visions, his calling, must have looked very confusing in those years.  It can often be very difficult to discern your calling in light of your current circumstances.  We can only act on the information and wisdom available to us, and trust God to continue guiding us as we go. 

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